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Batteries contain hazardous corrosive materials — here's how to recycle them so they don't pose a threat to your health

There's even an option to mail in your used batteries.

Battery recycling

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Energizer mascot is iconic — the mechanical pink toy rabbit wearing sunglasses and flip-flops while beating a drum (bearing the Energizer logo) keeps going, and going, and going … as the battery company's ads claim. 

But batteries don't keep going. Eventually, they all die. Enter: battery recycling programs like Call2Recycle's — the country's largest.

What is Call2Recycle's battery recycling program?

Call2Recycle has been in the battery recycling game for nearly 30 years. It works with major chains across the country including Staples, Barnes & Noble, Lowe's, and Home Depot to collect a range of batteries from rechargeable and single-use to cell phone batteries and e-bike batteries. 

The stores collect the batteries and work with Call2Recycle to ensure that they're properly recycled or reused.

"Operating the highest quality battery recycling program through our commitment to environmental excellence remains the foundation on which our organization and our program were built and continue to operate," the organization says on its website.

How does Call2Recycle's battery recycling program work?

There are a few ways consumers can recycle batteries with Call2Recycle. 

The first is the easiest: Find a participating location near you and drop off the batteries. The Call2Recycle website lists its participating retail partners and the types of batteries they take. Not all locations take the same types of batteries, so checking the site before you go will ensure you take the right batteries to the correct drop-off location. 

There's also an option to mail in used batteries, which includes fees for proper shipping materials. Call2Recycle also offers larger-scale disposal options for corporate partners.

Why recycle batteries?

We use a lot of batteries. According to the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans use more than 3 billion batteries every year. And in most municipalities, proper disposal of batteries is the law — meaning if you get caught putting them in the trash, you could face fines.

Many batteries, especially those in electronic devices including phones, computers, and cars, contain valuable metals and minerals that can be recycled into new batteries and other materials. Some of these minerals, like cobalt, are in short supply in the natural world, due in large part to use in batteries.

Batteries also pose threats to the environment and human health. They contain hazardous corrosive and toxic materials that can leach out over time, especially once a battery has expired. Sending these to landfills contributes to leachate, a toxic chemical sludge that's linked to human health and environmental issues. 

Plus, old batteries can cause fires if not handled carefully.

What type of batteries can be recycled? 

The short answer: all of them. The more complicated answer is all of them, with caveats. 

Call2Recycle details which batteries are accepted at which drop-off point. Single-use batteries, while widely common, aren't taken by a number of recycling programs, so be sure to look for drop-offs that allow these, especially if you live in California where it's illegal to throw out any kind of batteries — even if they keep going, and going, and going …

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